After driving down the bumpy dirt road leading to Gibson Ranch and walking a few miles to make it the entrance, the lines were growing as the time got closer to doors opening for City of Trees. The huge music festival is put on by Sacramento radio station 94.7 for Northern California fans to come out to and listen to some good music. And good music there was. Fans of all kinds came out to the event to see their favorite artist. Whether you're a fan of indie acoustic artists like James Bay, or have a little more twang in your taste like Elle King, it was sure to be a good time nonetheless.
As the crowds poured in, making their way to front row or looking to get a cold beer, starting off the day was alternative rock band The Moth & The Flame performing on the Music Discovery stage. Their energy seeped through the audience, making people excited and getting them warmed up for the artists to come later throughout the day. (Be sure to check out their new single "Young & Afraid" if you're into the rock scene with a little bit of spunk to it.)
As soon as their set ended, on the main stage was one of the most highly anticipated artists that everyone, ladies and gents, swooned for: Halsey. With her confidence and sex appeal, she put on a set that new and old fans could enjoy, performing songs such as "Colors", "New Americana", and "Hold Me Down". Halsey had the whole crowd entranced with her sassiness and cool kid attitude. She set the bar for the day; that is until up-and-coming rock band Night Riots came out to the stage.
Having prior seen them perform in a more acoustic setting, this was something entirely different. Lead singer Travis Hawley kept the crowd going, jumping from the stage into the barricade to reach out to the fans, and back and forth he went with his Mick Jagger-like moves. Band mates Nick Fotinakes, Matt DePauw, Mikel Van Kranenburg, and Rico Rodriguez all brought their A game with their rock and roll presence, showing they always give their 100% to a crowd. Ending their set with their single "Contagious", band New Politics was up next.
With their show-stopping flips in the air, breakdancing moves, and head banging guitar solos, David Boyd, Soren Hansen, and Louis Vecchio killed it. Performing a few songs from their just-released album "Vikings", the crowd went absolutely crazy for these guys. There may have been a moment where vocalist David ended up standing on his head, or even doing a backflip from drummer Louis' set. It was one of the most entertaining performances I had ever seen in my history of being a music photographer.
There was one artist though that everyone was waiting to see, and that was indie acoustic artist, James Bay. Donning a hat and sunglasses to try to survive through the heat like everyone else that day, he swooned the ladies with his rusty vocals and guitar twangs. Performing songs like "Hold Back The River" and "Best Fake Smile", it was a nice break for the day to get to chill and watch James perform. With his performance, he made people continue to fall in love with his music.
The chill vibe was about to change as soon as Elle King hit the stage. Her killer country twang sound mixed with rock and roll was spunky and entertaining. She even included a cover of The Beatles "Oh! Darling" in her set, putting her own twist to it. When a fight broke out in the crowd, Elle pointed it out and sang about it, adding that "we're all here for a good time" and that "fighting doesn't belong here".
As it was getting later into the evening and the sun was going down, co-headliner Of Monsters and Men brought the audience into an awe state of mind with their haunting vocals and instrumentals. Fans were going absolutely crazy for these guys. They had a way of capturing the audience with their music and had them going along for the ride with songs like "Little Talks" and "Dirty Paws".
As soon as night fell, the final act of the day was the one band everyone was waiting for: Cake. With neon lights, a disco ball, and even a random plant on the stage, and trumpets galore, their jazz-rock sound was something that you didn't want to miss, especially since they represented Sacramento itself! Lead singer Vincent DiFiore involved the crowd, having them sing their hearts out back to the band, making it one of those surreal moments that you sit back, look and appreciate everyone's mutual love for the music they came here for. With close to 30,000 attendees, and nearly a 3-hour wait time just to leave the parking lot, City of Trees was one for the books. It was nothing but good music, good people, good food and an all around good time.